“The sun was a gigantic circle of intense bright light as I walked on Old Plantersville Road tonight and the colors in the sky surrounding it took my breath away. They were all that – and then some. No camera this evening. Just me and the sunset. It’s as close as I ever come to a spiritual moment and not surprising that the words of a hymn I sang over and over during my Southern Baptist days played in my head while I walked:
‘Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh.
Shadows of the evening steal across the sky.
Jesus, give the weary calm and sweet repose,
With thy tenderest blessing may mine eyelids close.’
—–Sabine Baring-Gould, published 1865
A few raindrops fell on me as I turned toward home from the railroad track which is my usual turnaround spot. I didn’t even care. The colors changed quickly in the sky as the sun went down behind the trees across the pasture. I slowed my pace to catch as many of them as I could, and the rain stopped for me so I wouldn’t have to hurry.
The day was over, and shadows of the evening stole across the sky right in front of me. Jesus, give the weary calm and sweet repose. My Random House Dictionary defines repose as, among other things, a dignified calmness…composure. Yes, give the weary a sweet repose. Let all who work hard and all who are tired of fighting the same battles or any whose pain leaves them exhausted – give them a sweet repose at the end of this day.
And may our eyelids close.”
——–The Short Side of Time
When I wrote these words in September, 2013, there was no way I could have known that in December, 2018 a special train would roll over those railroad tracks that were my turnaround point in my Old Plantersville Road walks in Montgomery County, Texas. The special train was carrying the remains of President George H.W. Bush, the 41st. president of the United States, to his final resting place at the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.
I’ve watched most of the coverage of his death, two funerals, countless images of the Bush family and friends during the past six days. I was reminded of how true patriotism finds a way to express itself in the lives of selfless leaders who may be ambitious but never blind to the responsibilities of public service. In a day of tweeting presidents, I needed that reminder.
Now on this night the special train will come to a stop, and the body of our 41st. president will be laid to rest in a place 22 miles from where I was born in Navasota, Texas. His family and friends will say a final farewell for now. My prayer for them is that they will find a calm and sweet repose at the end of this day.